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“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”
- Bob Nelson
Working remotely is not an entirely new practice. It has been around for quite some time. However, because of the pandemic, more companies have adopted this strategy to keep their businesses going. Now, freelancers are not the only ones who are working from home (or someplace else). Even people who used to be office-based workers are joining this group.
A successful shift to this new methodology comes with challenges. One of these is how employers can keep their people motivated to work outside of a traditional office setting..
Employees have always had problems with motivation, even when they are in the office, but working from home can result in added distractions. Never fear though - done right, establishing a remote workforce yields real advantages and is worth all the effort in the long run. Here are some practical tips to get you started:
Employees transitioning from company offices to remote work can’t be expected to perform at their best if they suddenly find themselves deprived of the facilities they’ve become accustomed to.
In most cases, they won’t have access to the same tools available to them in the office. It might be that their personal computers are slower than company PCs, or that they can only use free versions of the applications with limited functions when they are at home. Working through these kinds of limitations can be demotivating. It disrupts momentum, wastes time, and causes frustration.
Help your staff by providing them everything they need for their job. Give access to email services, communication tools, direct messaging platforms, video conferencing, project management and time tracking tools, and cloud storage. If your company has enough resources, you can also provide them with the necessary hardware. Think laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, noise-canceling headphones… You can also allocate a portion of your budget for their Internet allowance.
Working remotely means your employees will have to work alone at home, in a cafe, or, say, from a small office space for rent in NYC. Most likely, they will not be working together at the same place. This can make interpersonal interaction difficult, causing poor communications and low morale. But there’s no need to let the distance between you and your staff stop you from building robust relationships. Thanks to technology, we can still be just as connected.
Establish a work culture virtually through constant communication. Schedule regular meetups and catch up with each other. Make it a habit to keep the camera on when doing this as it makes people more engaged. Seeing faces on the screen allows us to absorb visual cues through body language and facial expressions.
Be sure to add your staff on calls that may be relevant to their role to keep them in the loop. It will make them feel important and valued. Another thing you can do is one-on-one check-ins. It can help you gauge your employee’s level of motivation. You can also use this opportunity to address specific issues.
Not having your team in the same place as you can be unnerving. You won’t be able to see if they’re working on their assigned tasks or if they’re doing it right. It can tempt you to ask for constant updates, which can be stressful on their part.
Micromanaging is known to make employees lose motivation, leading to an unhealthy work relationship. Avoid this by building rapport with your team. Learn about their personal lives and work style. It will make you more approachable, and they’ll be less inclined to hesitate to reach out whenever they have questions.
Since they are not you, don’t expect they will work on their tasks like you would. Allow them to accomplish it on their own. You can tell them what kind of results you want to give them a bit of direction. It will help them learn many things, like taking ownership of their work and improving their time management skills.
Your employees may feel disconnected from your company when they are working on their own. This is because they may find it more difficult to see the relevance of what they do for the business. Working remotely may appear like they’re just checking off all the items on their to-do list. This can be exhausting.
So, keep them motivated by showing them how their role and work help the enterprise reach its goals. According to Harvard Business Review, around 40% of employees are more eager to do their job when their superiors recognize their effort. They also get motivated when they can see how their contributions fit into the bigger picture.
You can eliminate the mystery by showing the results of everyone’s labors. What is important is that you provide regular updates. You can also let them know why you chose them for a particular project. In addition, don’t forget to praise them for a job well done and reward them for their efforts. This not only increases motivation and productivity, but also breeds loyalty.
Overworking is not new in a work-from-home setting. This setup blurs the line that divides work and life outside it. When we bring work home, we tend to use all our time to finish it right away even though we should be allowing time for rest. We may think it is productive, but in reality, this is damaging as overworking leads to burnout.
Burnout causes us to lose energy and motivation to work. Help your employees manage their work-life balance by encouraging them to take breaks. A short 30-minute break can do wonders for well-being and actually improves productivity. Tell them to step away from their computers when they have to eat meals or snacks. In addition, when their day’s work is done, urge your employees to unplug.
Moreover, if possible, let your employees choose their working hours. People feel productive at different times of the day. Some work well in the mornings, while others do better in the afternoon or evening. Having this level of autonomy will allow them to perform better at the same time as giving them the freedom to enjoy more quality time with their loved ones.
Nothing motivates employees better than being provided with a chance to improve. So, give them opportunities where they can develop and grow. If you just let them be as they are now, they may start wondering how their job is helping them be the person they want to be in the future. If they think that the work isn’t helping them progress, they may choose to take their talent elsewhere.
Talk to them about their future goals. Get to know what they love to do, what they know, and what they feel they lack. When you take note of these things, you will have a clear picture of where they excel and where they need improvement.
This means you will be in a better position to provide them with the right projects and appropriate training. You’ll also know how you can mentor them whether through online workshops or virtual lunch-and-learn sessions. When your team feels that you want to help them become better, they will feel valued. They will be grateful that someone is willing to invest in them. In return, they will be motivated to do their best.
Working through this pandemic, employees may focus simply on ‘staying afloat’. There’s a big chance that they won’t think of the company’s vision. As their leader, it’s up to you to reintroduce this to them. Explain again how the company sees itself in the future and that this is the real goal. Share the main business objectives and the plan for achieving them.
When your team knows the rationale behind their tasks, they will be motivated to work harder with you. It can also build teamwork and create a real sense of purpose.
Motivation is a crucial factor when employees are doing work from home. Yes, it will require additional effort on your part. But if you want remote working to work for your company, you must be prepared to provide all the support your employees need. And when you do it right, you may be surprised at just how much more productive everyone becomes.
“You don’t build a business - you build people - and then people build the business.”
- Zig Ziglar
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